Ricky Gervais Out of England: The Stand-Up Special John Moffitt

Ricky Gervais Out of England: The Stand-Up Special John Moffitt
Rotund comedian Ricky Gervais has made a career out of awkward, cringe-inducing comedy with hit shows The Office and Extras. He's also conquered the internet realm with a successful podcast, and played a romantic lead in the Hollywood comedy Ghost Town. In what might have been considered a backwards step for any other performer, Ricky used his clout to launch a stand-up career and has released three DVDs for each of his tours: Animals, Politics and Fame (reportedly he's working on a fourth show, called Science). While the three previous DVDs were released only in the UK, HBO has issued Ricky Gervais Out of England: The Stand-Up Special in North America, a cable special that was taped in New York during Gervais's Fame tour. So be warned, despite the title, if you have the Fame DVD already, this is the exact same show, just a different performance. One of the problems with dropping the original title is that we lose the context of the character Gervais is playing, essentially a crass, self-obsessed, attention-seeking version of himself. He begins the show wearing a cape and crown, amidst pyrotechnic effects, with his name spelled in giant, illuminated letters behind him, à la Elvis's '68 Comeback Special. His comedy oscillates between sincere observations and ludicrously ignorant, politically incorrect jokes that elicit laughs as well as groans. He lampoons issues such as cancer, AIDS and the holocaust, sometimes with hilarious results, other times simply making the crowd writhe with discomfort. Regardless, Gervais has to be lauded for the respect he gives his audience, having the balls to trust that they're able to decipher his ironic facade, even when he's making statements such as: "I don't think World AIDS Day will catch on like Christmas." While not as funny as The Office, or even the podcast, Gervais is always worth watching; he's easily one of the most important comic talents today. Out of England doesn't display the best of his abilities but it is a worthy entry in the Gervais canon. The disc contains only one special feature: "A Conversation with Ricky Gervais," a ten-minute interview that's actually pretty good. He talks about stand-up as an art form and most interestingly, what makes certain topics suitable or unsuitable for comedy. (Warner)